Thursday, September 08, 2011

GAMES (1967)

James Caan and Katharine Ross are a mod, swinging, totally 60s Manhattan couple, living a life of playful decadence, collecting pop art (such as pinball machines) and playing games and practical jokes. We see a party of theirs in full swing, with the two performing an elaborate magic trick, much to everyone’s world-weary delight—imagine a less kinky group of Rocky Horror "unconventional conventionists." One day, a door-to-door cosmetic saleswoman (Simone Signoret) faints at their door and they take her in. She, too, has a taste for the mildly eccentric (she carries tarot cards and a gun) and soon, Ross and Caan have more or less adopted her. The three play little games and tricks on other people (including hunky delivery boy Don Stroud, pictured) and each other, with Signoret upping the ante along the way, so that eventually, when Caan seems to catch Ross and Stroud having sex, we don't know if it's real or another game. Things quickly take a more sinister, deadly, and perhaps supernatural turn, but to reveal more would spoil the fun. Actually, with the twisty/mind-fuck plotline practically its own genre now, most viewers will probably figure out what's what long before the ending, but the proceedings are still fun. Caan looks impossibly young, Ross is lovely, Signoret, past her prime, still creates an interesting character, and Stroud makes for some nice eye candy. Fans of character actors will enjoy seeing Kent Smith, Estelle Winwood, and Ian Wolfe. We see a pinball game called Turnpike Pinball which predicts today's violent video games: the game involves traffic fatalities, and the winner "dies" as a death skull lights up. Slight spoiler: If you know Signoret's previous acting credits, you may figure out where this is going the moment she shows up. [Cable]

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